Sam Wharton, a founding member of Songs From the Road Band, has found an inventive way to cope with his suddenly empty performance schedule in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Wharton started Bands2Fans, a new livestream series offering high-quality performance from the stage at Ambrose West with a serious focus on safety and sanitation. “The weekly concerts, featuring local and regional bands, will be livestreamed on multiple platforms,” says Wharton. “We aim to deliver high-quality, live music to music fans everywhere in the safest way possible.”
The partnership with Ambrose West is integral to ensuring the professionalism and quality of Bands2Fans. “It is a first-class listening room with state-of-the-art equipment,” says Wharton. Ambrose West owners Greg and Donna Fox were excited to fill their venue, which had been empty for six weeks, with music again. “Greg and Donna have been so very great to work with and are equally excited to be able to offer up some great music for fans around the world to enjoy,” says Wharton.
The Bands2Fans series started in May with a performance by the Darren Nicholson Band. Nicholson, who is also a founding member of Balsam Range, says the production quality was a major reason the band decided to participate in the livestream series. “We had a fantastic time livestreaming with Bands2Fans,” he says. “The production was very professional. The streaming, audio and videography were the reason we were interested. If we were going to do a livestream we wanted to do it on a more professional level. It was so good to get to share our music again and to be able to do it in a safe and healthy environment.” Other Bands2Fans performances have included musicians Josh Daniel, Jeff Sipe, Mark Schimick and Justin Powell. The first month of shows boasted about 27,000 combined views on the Bands2Fans broadcast channels.
As social distancing requirements are lifted or loosened, Bands2Fans may start livestreaming drive-in concerts or doing video production work for musical artists and promoters. “The possibilities are many and we are going to continue to adapt as we go,” says Wharton. “The main goal is to continue to bring live music to music lovers in the safest way possible, so however the requirements change we will be adapting our concept with them.”
Bands2Fans livestream concerts can be viewed each Friday night at 8 p.m. (timing subject to change) via Facebook Live, YouTube and TwitchTV. The streams are free to the public, but donations for the bands and the series are encouraged and appreciated.